The same four players made up men’s soccer’s defensive line for the first seven matches of the season and let up eight goals during that span.
But GW’s backline has been shuffled and includes just one player who has started all 12 games on the backline in the team’s four Atlantic 10 games due to injuries.
Head coach Craig Jones said the team has been “punished” in recent games for giving up goals off mistakes, with five of the eight goals GW has conceded in A-10 play coming in the final 20 minutes of play and one coming in overtime.
With four games on the books in conference play, GW is 11th out of 13 teams in the league and has only come away with one conference victory.
“There are two games where we’ve certainly felt we should have gotten more out of, so now we’re in a bit of a hole,” Jones said.
Jones said the entire team is responsible for defending well on the field, not just the team’s back four.
But after junior defender Gabriel Seemungal was sidelined in the team’s Sept. 25 match against Duke, the backline has been a revolving door of players. The lack of consistency, on top of lapses on the field, have cost the team critical goals.
GW started the same backline for the first seven matches of the season in freshman defender Marcelo Lage, sophomore defender Joshua Yurasits, junior defender Reese Moore and Seemungal.
Lage is now the only remaining player from the original defensive line up who has consistently started for the Colonials.
“At center back, Marcelo is the only definite,” Jones said.
In GW’s game against George Mason earlier this month, senior midfielder Alexy Boehm dropped into the outside defender position while Yurasits sat out the match. The team later fell to the Patriots and provided their first conference win since 2015 when the Colonials gave up “sloppy” goals.
“Our defensive line is really bare-thin,” Jones said after the George Mason match.
Another combination of players made up the backline against St. Bonaventure on Oct. 10 when Moore sat the game out due to injury. Yurasits found himself back on the defensive line instead of freshman defender Sam Reavis while junior midfielder Colin Anderson shifted into the center defensive position.
“We ended the game with three different guys in the back four than when we started,” Jones said.
On top of their constantly changing backline, lack of focus on the field has added to their conference struggles. After the game against George Mason, Boehm said the team “switched off” mentally which led to the loss.
“For games in the A-10, everyone’s got to be on form,” Boehm said.
The Colonials dropped their first conference game against Davidson 3–2 in September in an overtime battle after leading the Wildcats 2–0 through 80 minutes of play. GW let up two goals in the final 10 minutes to head into extra time, when Davidson found the back of the net in seven minutes to take the win.
In the Colonials’ games against Davidson and VCU, GW was leading with less than 15 minutes left in play but ended up losing the matches.
In GW’s 4–0 win against St. Bonaventure last week, Jones said the team cut out defensive mistakes to secure their only win in conference play.
“We just got to close down and clean up a little bit of our defensive stuff,” Jones said after the St. Bonaventure win.
But the Colonials found themselves again giving up two late-game goals to drop 2–1 to the No. 1 team in the conference after leading them 1–0 through 54 minutes of play.
“We have enough firepower offensively, but when you give goals away, we’ve got to stop doing that,” Jones said after the game against George Mason. “The guys have got to learn pretty quickly or we’re going to be in real trouble qualifying for the A-10 tournament.”
Three of the team’s final five games will be played on the road, where GW holds a 1-4-1 record. At 11th place, the Colonials are three spots off from the final spot in the A-10 Championship.
Senior goalkeeper Thor Arne Höfs said the team needs to concentrate for the full 90 minutes in the upcoming games as the season comes to a close.
“I think it’s important to see one game at a time now and keep playing,” Höfs said. “We started 0-2 so we really can’t look further than the next game to make sure that we get into the tournament.”
The Colonials head to the Bronx Wednesday to take on Fordham. Kick off is slated for 7 p.m.